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Pre-Europe analysis - Alonso targets victory in improved Ferrari 22 Jun 2012

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari with fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Preparations, Valencia, Spain, Thursday, 21 June 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari in the Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Preparations, Valencia, Spain, Thursday, 21 June 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari signs autographs.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Preparations, Valencia, Spain, Thursday, 21 June 2012 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Preparations, Valencia, Spain, Thursday, 21 June 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Preparations, Valencia, Spain, Thursday, 21 June 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren with the fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Preparations, Valencia, Spain, Thursday, 21 June 2012 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren signs autographs.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, European Grand Prix, Preparations, Valencia, Spain, Thursday, 21 June 2012

Fernando Alonso has that quietly confident air about him this weekend, as he prepares to race on his home turf for the second time in the season. Ferrari said recently that they have rediscovered their self-belief after a wobbly past couple of seasons, and the Spanish hero is clearly feeling quite confident of his chances.

Oddly, Valencia is one of the few tracks on which Alonso has yet to win, but even if he can’t do it this time, he knows he can score well, which is the name of the game in this quote extraordinary year.

“Sure, getting some podiums now, in the next couple of races, especially in July when we have three in four weeks, it will be important to have some consistency in this very important month,” said the Spaniard. “But, being on Thursday, we only think about victory, because we want to win, especially here in Spain, in front of our fans. It’s a difficult question because we know second in this type of championship is also good points.”

He’s been greatly encouraged by the development done by Ferrari, which is arguably greater than any other team thus far after their poor start to the season.

“I’m extremely happy with the effort of the team. It’s true that we didn’t start in the best position so maybe in that aspect we were a little bit advantaged because it’s easier to improve to a bad car than a good car normally because we had many things that didn’t work at the beginning, so maybe it was a little bit easier to put everything right.

“But in the last four Grands Prix every new part we bring to the race has correlated with what we expected from the wind tunnel. This is something we struggled with in the past, in the last two years especially. So yeah, there’s more self-confidence in the team now, in all the new designs, in all the information we get from the wind tunnel. This is good, not just for now but for the near future.”

This weekend, the Ferrari driver reckons that his old Renault team mate Romain Grosjean has a strong chance, and Lotus boss Eric Boullier was rubbing his hands yesterday at the prospect of what the very high temperatures could mean for the E20 in qualifying, hitherto its weak point.

“He’s a very talented driver,” Alonso said. “He won GP2 easily and in 2009 in Formula One I think the car was not so easy to drive and he found it tough, but now he’s showing his potential. He’s young, talented, very quick. He can keep up a very good pace with few mistakes over a whole race. Things to improve? Experience for sure because this is something that you never stop learning and the more races you do, the more championships you do, you improve little things and little tricks at different circuits. A little bit of consistency will only come from experience.

“I’m happy with his performance, happy for him. I think he will have a very interesting season from now on, after the podium in Canada and the toughest time will only come on Saturday with the football, I think!”

Or, of course, from keeping the Pirelli tyres alive long enough in the race…

“Everyone is expecting a tough race, trying to look after the tyres,” McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton said. “It will be very interesting to see how the teams vary, as they did in the last race. You have to expect teams like Lotus and Sauber doing very, very well on their long runs and Ferrari are also very, very good on theirs. So I definitely don’t anticipate doing a one-stop strategy this weekend, but will obviously try to look after the tyres as best we can.

“In terms of our pit stops, we are constantly altering and improving race by race, and the guys go back to the factory after every race with footage of the pit stop to understand and analyse exactly what went wrong, so that next time we go out we don’t have those problems. I think this weekend we will have an even better set of pit stops again.

“At the last race the first pit stop - if we didn’t have the problem with the pull away - I think it would have maybe been the fastest of the whole season so far. The stationary time was 2.8s, 2.9s, I think, something like that, but I lost a second as I pulled away. We are just going to keep working on it.”

David Tremayne

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